Jen Tough Gallery


Gina Tuzzi: Pele and the Sensual World




Jen Tough Gallery is thrilled to announce the second solo exhibition by gallery favorite Gina Tuzzi. Tuzzi holds a teaching position at Humboldt State and has an MFA from Mills College in Oakland. Tuzzi has been in numerous group shows at the gallery and several art fairs. This is her first solo exhibition in the Benicia location.

Dicen que no tengo duelo, Llorona, Porque no me ven llorar
Hay muertos que no hacen ruido, Llorona, ¡Y es más grande su penar!

They say that I don't mourn, Llorona
Because they don't see me cry.
There are dead that do not make noise, Llorona, And their pain is much greater!

-La Llorona, The Weeping Woman (origins unknown)

I flew over the Hawaiian islands late last Spring. The air above the Big Island was a veil of smoke from an erupting Kilauea. I thought of Pele below, deep within her womb of liquid fire: emoting, vengeful, destructive and expansive. Taking down all life that grew in her molten path while giving birth to a new and fertile stretch of earth. I was so drawn to the fulcrum of that teetered balancing act: a goddess revered for the magnitude of her emotionality and worshiped for the growth that ensued.

In the days and months that followed, I thought of all the women that came before me in my ancestral lineage, the women that surround me now as well as myself. I thought of the rage, the tears , the joy and passion, all of our collective experiences in this world. I considered the moments where bursts of emotionality were pacified, suppressed or tampered down gracefully as a sacrifice of emotional labor for someone else’s benefit. I imagined these collective feelings welling up inside, pressurizing and boiling deep within us, not unlike a dormant volcano.

This body of work was born of that, appropriately a 9 month gestation. In that time, I allowed myself all liberties to be visually permissive. I surrounded myself with the imagery and lore of destructive goddess archetypes, reverently building altars for them, an attempt to conjure their strengths in a time where their magic feels so greatly needed. I played them music, poured them tequila and danced at their feet, all the while, exorcizing vehement reclamation of my own autonomy as an act of indulgent resistance. –Gina Tuzzi, 2018